Look through our alphabetical list of categories

Laws Of New York - Some Important Laws

Updated Oct 05 2014 04:43 PM EST with 0 listings


We have included this section to help familiarize you with some of the laws you should be aware of while walking or driving around New York City. It is not official or complete, but it will give you some helpful tips on how to avoid a fine or ticket or even stay out of jail (perhaps for something that is perfectly legal where you live.)

Illegal Activities
There are many activities taking place on the streets of New York that are not legal. Recently, the city has become stricter about arresting participants in these illegal street activities, though they still take place.

Pedestrian Laws
The pedestrian laws in New York City were once the least adhered-to laws in history. Since 1998, Mayor Guiliani has tried to enforce them. Whether or not New Yorkers will pay attention is still unclear, though some tickets have been issued recently. Here are the major pedestrian laws:

  • When crossing a street, you must use the designated crosswalks located at intersections; do not cross the street in the middle of the block.
  • Obey "Walk" and "Don't Walk" signs at crosswalks. This a good law to obey because drivers will not always yield to a pedestrian who is in a crosswalk.

Alcohol Laws
To purchase alcohol you must be 21 years old, and don't be surprised if you are asked to present proof of age. Liquor and wine are sold only in licensed stores. These are closed on Sundays, holidays and election days when voting polls are open. Beer can be purchased 24 hours in delis or grocery stores except for Sundays before 12pm.
Most bars in New York also have a minimum age of 21, and they too will ask for proof. SeeBARS.
It is illegal to drink alcohol in public outside of a restaurant, bar, café, or some other establishment that sells it.

TYPTip: It is illegal to purchase alcohol for minors (people under 21). If you are approached by someone asking you to do this, don't. It could very well be a police operation and you can get a hefty fine.

One of the most serious crimes in the US is the importing, selling or buying of illegal drugs especially heroin, cocaine and crack. Marijuana (also called pot, hash, grass, etc.) is also illegal but the penalties are not as harsh.
The major illegal street activities in New York are the selling and use of illegal drugs. Both of these activities are completely illegal in New York, for both sellers and buyers. Being arrested for either of these offenses will result in serious legal repercussions.

It is a serious crime to carry an unregistered concealed weapon. In addition, some weapons are completely forbidden. Here is the law:
Assault weapons, like machine guns, are banned in New York City. A permit and a valid NYC gun license are required for the purchase of a shotgun, rifle, or handgun. These are also required in order to carry the aforementioned weapons. The licensing officer in NYC is the Police Commissioner. A NYC license expires three years after it is issued. A license to possess a firearm also serves as a license to carry, unless it is restricted. There is no waiting period for the purchase of a firearm. Immediate FBI background checks are made for all firearms purchases, unless the purchaser has a valid license to carry and possess. No person may carry, possess, or transport a firearm through NYC unless he has a valid NYC license.

Prostitution is illegal in New York, for both sellers and buyers. It is not only illegal but dangerous with the problem of AIDS. Some drug addicts support their "drug habits" through prostitution. Police regularly "sweep" the streets of prostitutes and their customers. This can be embarrassing but is not a major criminal offense.
Escort services and massage parlors are legal. However, they can be covers for prostitution.

Ticket Scalping
It is also illegal to sell (or buy) tickets to concerts, Broadway shows, sporting events, etc., on the street for more than 10% above the stated ticket price. This does not include city-sponsored ticket outlets, rather it refers to the people you'll find outside an event walking through a crowd asking "who needs tickets?" This practice is called "ticket scalping". Although many people scalp tickets to sold-out events, you will generally pay a much higher price for tickets and sometimes the tickets are invalid or fake. To find tickets to sold-out events, it is better to use a ticket broker. See TICKET BROKERS.

If you break the law and are arrested, do not even think about offering a gift (money) to a police officer or other official. The offering of a gift will be considered a bribe and a very serious crime. It is also a crime for a police officer or other official to accept a "gift".

Laws Of New York - Some Important Laws